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King still in play as financial chess game rumbles on

THEY always come back.

King's patience was criticised over the summer but he may just have played his cards astutely
King's patience was criticised over the summer but he may just have played his cards astutely

This mantra is in stark contrast to the axiom stated about boxers but it holds true at Ibrox, whether it is turmoil, on and off the field, Charles Green or Dave King.

It was just another Sunday at Ibrox with normal levels of turbulence and uncertainty. There was a stark contrast to the dignified and fitting tribute to the late Sandy Jardine in the lurid headlines that screamed in the morning newspapers. Basically, they read: Chuck is back and this time it is business, not personal.

Affairs at Ibrox must be investigated in two sections: the business and the playing. The former is the more urgent. As one Rangers supporter told me yesterday: "There are more pressing issues to address than whether Lewis Macleod should be playing wide right."

The return of Mr Green is more than an amusement, though. The tales of George Soros may be as tall as Peter Crouch on stilts but the backstory to the former chief executive's latest foray into the media contains an element of truth that points to what is going on at Ibrox.

It is this: there are significant developments unfolding at the club. The financial situation is acute with the board seeking investment and Green wants to be near at hand when that deal is brokered.

More interesting is the relative silence of King. He, too, though has not gone away. Much of the action from Graham Wallace, the chief executive of Rangers, and King, the man who would be sovereign at Rangers, is taking place in London, with mixed results.

A City source, who invested in Rangers in the initial public offering, told Herald Sport last night that Wallace has been active in trying to arrange support for another share issue. However, he added: "He has not met with conspicuous success." This was said wryly. The message, though, was deeply serious.

"There is no way I would advise further investment at Rangers under the present circumstances and under the present board. It is that simple," he said.

King has been working the City since at least March. His initial strategy was to canvass support for his plan to take the proxy vote for significant shareholdings and force change. This, increasingly, has been seen to be impractical, perhaps even unworkable, as long as the major players remain united within the Ibrox boardroom.

The pressure must be applied to the Beaufort Group that holds the majority of shares. This has been applied effectively by the strategy of some fans to withhold season ticket money. There has been much argument over whether this constitutes a boycott but it would be much more instructive to investigate the action's consequences.

It has brought King back into play, despite the reluctance of some on the Ibrox board to deal with the South African businessman. King's patience was criticised over the summer but he may just have played his cards astutely.

Rangers are searching for money and King claims he has it. This seemingly straightforward case of demand and supply, however, founders on the rocks of implacable politics at Rangers.

King, though, has improved his position quietly over the summer and may in the position to make his move.

The re-emergence of Green at this crucial juncture is not coincidental.

The Yorkshireman, who has the copyright of the terms bluff and plain-speaking, has again caused considerable annoyance to those inside Ibrox, not least Ally McCoist.

The Rangers manager was understandably frustrated at Green's latest intervention at the weekend when he stated that he could raise money to extricate the club from the deep financial hole.

McCoist described all of this as "a sideshow" and it is, but it is one with a purpose. The former chief executive was reminding everyone that he will have a say, even if his influence may be limited, in what happens at Ibrox.

With this financial game playing out in the media, it is almost crass to discuss a football match but what happened at Ibrox in front of 43,683 deserves consideration.

First, Hearts deserve enormous credit for a gameplan and for the willingness of their players to carry it out. Craig Levein and his football department have recruited wisely. Robbie Neilson set the team up cleverly and there were particularly outstanding contributions from Danny Wilson, in central defence, and Osman Sow, in attack.

Success for Hearts was ensured by increasing fecklessness in Rangers ranks. After they had missed early chances, Rangers defended awfully. Wilson made the most of a free header and Sow capitalised on disarray in the Rangers backline to score emphatically, seconds after McCoist's side equalised.

This frustration - and the very fact that he was asked a question he had to answer - probably accounted for McCoist's relative sharpness as regards Green. He will, though, be more concerned about solving the matters he has influence over, including finding the ideal wide man who can produce opportunities for Kris Boyd and Kenny Miller.

The latter had to come back to midfield on Sunday to find a touch and he was insistent afterwards that the side had to create more chances.

The team faces an interesting challenge at Falkirk on Friday. The board confronts more difficult problems with every day that passes.

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